Remember how I said the Predators are a tough team not to like? Well on the flip side, the Devils are probably one of the toughest teams to actually cheer for – hell, even their own fans have a hard time doing it. A team built around a Hall of Fame goaltender, the Devils perfected the art of “stifle the other team’s offense to death” and “bore the fans more than a college lecture on 13th century German rock sculpting.” The only problem they’ve run into now is that Martin Brodeur may have lost his pipeline to the fountain of youth, and looks like his amazing career is finally winding down. The next few seasons will be interesting to see, as the Devils seek to find a new identity. Undoubtedly, one of the key pieces in that new identity will be Ilya Kovalchuk, who subjected the league to an even bigger circus act than Brad Richards, and will be a Devil for the rest of his career in all likelihood.
Kovalchuk and the Devils lost a couple key pieces last season, most notably star winger Zach Parise, who is under contract for just one more season after an arbiter was brought in to resolve his contract situation. A team built on defense is suddenly starting to look a bit more offensive, and they may well have to be, as Brodeur was unable to perform up to expectations last year, and could be in one of his final years in the league.
A big question for the Devils will be to see if anyone other than Jacques Lemaire or Lou Lamoriello can actually get any results out of this squad. Drew Friedman from Pucks and Pitchforks has more on the Devils’ new head coach:
…Peter DeBoer is the new man in charge, and while some would understandably question this move, it is clear what the organization’s motive was. With the disaster they witnessed on the ice in front of John MacLean for the first 32 games of last season, the front office decided to forget about looking internally for a head coach, and went to the former Panthers’ coach as their latest hire. After a nice surprise in his first season in Florida, DeBoer’s last two seasons were certainly subpar, despite a less-than-superb lineup put out each night by the Panthers. How will he fare in New Jersey? That’s anyone’s guess; regardless, he deserves a fair chance, as he has, at least, proven he cancoach in this league.
Check out the rest of his season preview here.